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Croydon bus lane camera causes thousands of 'unfair' fines
« on: 08 July, 2023, 09:04:21 AM »
Croydon bus lane camera causes thousands of 'unfair' fines

23rd June 2023


Celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman, AKA Mr Loophole (bottom right), has urged Croydon Council to repay thousands of road fines uncovered by motorist Martin best (top right)

Exclusive by Charles Thomson
Investigations Reporter


Celebrity lawyer ‘Mr Loophole’ has called on Croydon Council to refund thousands of road fines.

Since 2018, the council has issued over 7,500 fines to drivers caught out by what Nick Freeman called “an appalling piece of road architecture” that led people to drive in a bus lane.

One victim, Martin Best, who received a £130 fine in April, said the council had effectively set a trap which “punishes safe driving”.

“It’s a money-making scheme,” he said.

Mr Best found that over 40% of all bus lane fines issued by Croydon Council since 2018 came from one camera on Wellesley Road.

It is stationed between two entrances to the Whitgift car park, into which drivers must turn left – but if they enter the left-hand lane to do so, they are fined £130.

The fines, which drop to £65 if paid quickly, have likely netted the council somewhere between £500,000 and £1million.


Martin Best mounted his own investigation after being hit with a £130 fine for entering a bus lane on Wellesley Road, Croydon (Image: Martin Best)

“It’s absolutely atrocious,” said Mr Freeman, whose clients have included David Beckham, Jeremy Clarkson and Jimmy Carr.

“Their fines should be refunded without any question and the council should hang their heads in shame.

“My view is that those monies were unfairly and unreasonably obtained. The facts speak for themselves. If one camera is raising over 40% of revenue, there’s clearly a problem and the council needs to take responsibility for it.”

Croydon Council said it had reviewed the bus lane in relation to both car park entrances and “concluded that both are safe”, finding “no issues with the design”.

Investigation

On April 15, Martin, from Norbury, used the Whitgift car park.

Days later he was fined by Croydon Council for driving in a bus lane.

He was “genuinely surprised”, he said, so returned to the area to understand what had happened.


Martin Best parked in the Whitgift shopping centre car park, seen on the left of this photograph of Wellesley Road (Image: Google Streetview)

He found the car park entrance “basically intersects a continuous bus lane, with an extremely small gap”.

The bus lane ends just beyond the camera.

Martin felt it was inappropriate to turn left from the middle lane, as it required “a dangerous, 90-degree-angle turn” across the bus lane.

“On a busy day, I’m unsure how it’d be possible to make a perfect manoeuvre and avoid camera infringements,” he said.

Croydon Council rejected his criticism, saying drivers “should enter from the middle lane when it is clear”.

Martin asked the council a series of questions under the Freedom of Information Act.

A month later, Croydon replied.


The first entrance to the Whitgift car park on Wellesley Road, Croydon, briefly interrupts a continuous bus lane, meaning drives must make a sharp left turn across the bus lane, or enter it and be fined (Image: Google Streetview)

Revelation

Between its installation in May 2018 and May 2023, the camera generated 7,617 fines.

In the same period, 17,617 fines were issued across all of Croydon’s bus lane cameras.

Over five years, the Wellesley Road camera generated more than 43% of all Croydon’s bus lane fines.

The council said the average (mean) number of bus lane cameras in operation each year was seven, but some years it had been in double-digits.

On average, the proportion of fines generated by the Wellesley Road camera was thus far greater than would be expected.

Roughly 30 drivers per week have been stung since summer 2018.

“This seems more like exploitation of good drivers than a safety measure,” said Martin.

“Why place the camera in the one place they know people will be turning in?”


Martin Best's Freedom of Information request forced Croydon Council to admit that the bus lane on Wellesley Road ended just 24 metres before the second entrance to the Whitgift car park (Image: Google Streetview)

‘Mr Loophole’
 

The council also disclosed that the distance between the end of the bus lane and the second entrance to the car park was 24 metres.

Your Local Guardian contacted celebrity road lawyer ‘Mr Loophole’ for an expert opinion.

“The stopping distance at 30mph is 23 metres, which illustrates the folly of this particular layout,” said Mr Freeman.

That is for an emergency stop. To slow down gradually, the distance is much longer.

“People want to and are entitled to gradually ease into the left-hand lane,” said Mr Freeman.


Celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman, known as 'Mr Loophole' and famed for representing well-known clients like David Beckham and Jeremy Clarkson, said the fines were 'atrocious' and should be refunded (Image: Freeman Solicitors)

“They don’t want to feel that at the last minute they’ve got to cut across. It causes anxiety with cars behind. It’s really poorly designed.

“Drivers should be given a minimum of 50 metres to safely pull over. Even that’s not very long, say, if it’s rush hour and there are buses there.

“I would be advising motorists to challenge any ticket they get in that lane, on the basis that it is unfair and unreasonable.”

Croydon Council said: “Those wishing to turn into a car park in 24 metres would be expected to reduce their speed.

“If travelling at 30mph, they should do this as early as possible, to meet their requirement to drive with due car and attention, as is written in the Highway Code.”

https://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/23608209.croydon-bus-lane-camera-causes-thousands-unfair-fines/

 


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